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Health Team

WakeMed Cary nurse: Isolation, deaths the reality of COVID-19 spike

Posted November 27, 2020 12:14 p.m. EST
Updated November 27, 2020 5:35 p.m. EST

— Chris Barnes, a nurse at WakeMed in Cary, has been watching COVID-19 patients come into the hospital for months. Now, as he sees more people die from the virus, he's especially concerned.

"Seeing the number of losses that occur every day now is challenging," he said. "It is challenging to lose any patient.”

Barnes has been a nurse for 26 years. He worked Thanksgiving Day, when North Carolina recorded 4,174 new cases, the fourth-highest daily total to date.

Barnes described what it was like seeing so many patients in the hospital on a holiday, many connected to ventilators and far away from their loved ones.

"There is that isolation that occurs," he said. "So they are suffering from physical illness and they are also having the mental challenges.”

Barnes said he and his fellow nurses do what they can to make it easier, holding hands and offering words of comfort.

However, he fears the rise in cases is a warning to people who gathered for Thanksgiving and didn’t take proper precautions. With Christmas just weeks away, they could also find themselves in the hospital during the upcoming holidays.

That's why Barnes wanted to share what he is seeing at work. "I believe we are going to see an increase in numbers, and it is going to be challenging," he said.

North Carolina released two days of coronavirus data on Friday, including new cases recorded on Thanksgiving. While the state's daily COVID-19 case count remains concerning, hospitalizations are still at an all-time high.

On Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, COVID-19 hospitalizations soared above 1,800 -- the highest number since the pandemic began. On Thursday, 1,788 people were hospitalized in the state -- the second highest to-date -- and on Friday, the number dropped slightly to 1,780 -- the third highest to-date.

Local health experts are worried hospitals will become strained as we move into the holiday season, when more people are expected to attend gatherings and celebrations. It is also the beginning of flu season, which could also strain hospitals.

The state reported 4,174 new cases on Thursday, the fourth-highest daily total since the pandemic began. On Friday, 3,834 new cases were reported.

The uptick in cases comes after hundreds flocked to testing sites across the state this week seeking coronavirus testing before gathering with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Health experts said, while testing is a proactive measure, it doesn't guarantee you won't infect loved ones, and not traveling at all is the safest bet.

In the last two days, 72 new deaths were reported in the state.

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